Photography by John Michael

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Special Forces Honors President John F Kennedy

A SPECIAL Special Forces Invite

invite to JFK honor by Special Forces


Earlier in October 2016, I received an email from the US Army Special Forces for the annual honoring of JFK at Arlington National Cemetery.  Something that reflects the strong bond even until now between the “silent professionals” and the President.

SF invite to JFK event

Wednesday 19 October 2016 – JFK is Honored

Surrounded by a cordon of US Army Special Forces Soldiers in commemoration of how they honored the fallen President in 1963, the Deputy Commander of the 1st Special Forces Regiment,  Brigadier General E. John Deedrick, Jr., Deputy Commanding General, 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) and invited guests placed a wreath at JFK’s grave and final resting place within Arlington National Cemetery.  As in 1963 Soldiers from the 3d Infantry Regiment – “The Old Guard” and the US Army Band – “Pershing’s Own” complemented the military contingent – also reminisce of  the 1963 final honors of the President.


Tradition Began in 1963

The origins of the connection of JFK and the US Army Special Forces began on 12  OCTOBER 1961 when the President met then BG William P Yarborough, who was at that time Commander of the 1st Special Forces Regiment at a ceremony held at McKellar’s Pond on Fort Bragg, North Carolina.  JFK was exposed to a comprehensive display of the Special Forces capabilities that afternoon after a morning spent among the 82d Airborne Division and their soldiers.

The arrangements for JFK to see the Special Forces was arranged through a back channel plan by then MG Chester Clifton and then BG William P Yarborough.  Since the President had back issues, the Soldiers with their specialties were paraded in front of him while they were on flatbed trucks.  At the end, the Special Forces Soldiers assembled in formation, removed their duty caps and donned their green berets.  General Yarborough went up to the President with his headgear – the green beret.   It was later that a Presidential Order came out that authorized that the Special Forces were offered the distinction of wearing the green beret.

When JFK was assassinated in November 1963, Robert Kennedy, brother of JFK called down to Fort Bragg requesting that a funeral detail of Special Forces Soldiers be included in the President’s final honors.  Among the 46 men chosen for the final honors, was SGM Francis J. Ruddy.  After the final honors were concluded, SGM Ruddy approached the casket of the President, removed his green beret and placed it on the casket rendering honors to his fallen Commander-in-Chief.

That strong connection between the 1st Special Forces and JFK is maintained with an annual wreath laying in Arlington National Cemetery at JFK’s grave.


Honoring JFK

P.S.   Yes, that is my latest challenge coin awarded by Brigadier General E. John Deedrick, Jr.


Special Forces Honors President John F Kennedy



Posted 1 year, 4 months ago at 11:12 pm.

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The Rendezvous in World War I

The WW I  Soldier

We often forget about the sacrifices that were made for conflicts that began and sometimes finished “Over There..”  Yet the individuals who stood up when called or some that stood up without being called but answered to an internal calling, are often forgotten…  here’s one American who headed to join the  French Foreign Legion in 1914.

I Have a Rendezvous with Death

Alan Seeger, 18881916

I have a rendezvous with Death   
At some disputed barricade,   
When Spring comes back with rustling shade   
And apple-blossoms fill the air—   
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.   
It may be he shall take my hand   
And lead me into his dark land   
And close my eyes and quench my breath—   
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death   
On some scarred slope of battered hill,   
When Spring comes round again this year   
And the first meadow-flowers appear.   
God knows ‘twere better to be deep 
Pillowed in silk and scented down,   
Where love throbs out in blissful sleep,   
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,   
Where hushed awakenings are dear...   
But I’ve a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,   
When Spring trips north again this year,   
And I to my pledged word am true,   
I shall not fail that rendezvous.
Alan Seeger

Alan Seeger

Seeger’s  Destiny

He was killed in action during the Battle of the Somme at Belloy-en-Santerre on July 4, 1916, famously cheering on his fellow soldiers in a successful charge after being hit several times by machine gun fire.

A President’s Favorite Poem

Seeger’s poem “I Have a Rendezvous with Death” was a favorite of John F. Kennedy, who often asked his wife to recite it.



To learn more about Alan Seeger and others who stood up in 1914,  consider the following book …


Posted 1 year, 9 months ago at 6:55 am.

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Remembering General Y

It was 06 DEC 2005 – Ten Years Ago that the world lost a man who had given much …

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Posted 2 years, 2 months ago at 8:11 pm.

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John F Kennedy Inaugural




“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”


John F. Kennedy

20 JAN 1961


Posted 4 years, 8 months ago at 3:44 pm.

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Another “First” at Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery - Amphitheater

Arlington National Cemetery – Amphitheater

For those of you who have visited this website often, you know the love and admiration I have for Arlington National Cemetery and since June of 2010 with the new management, things have gotten so much better!

Over the last decade plus, the hours which I’ve walked and worked among  those acres of heroes at rest are countless, but each time it’s a place that I welcome to visit time and time again.

I spent St. Patrick’s Day 2013 in a very unusual and festive way… It was truly an honor to be selected to photograph the change of responsibility and  retirement of  an US Army Airborne Ranger …  at the Amphitheater of Arlington National Cemetery.  When President Woodrow Wilson dedicated it in May of 1920, it became a place where special events happen. These include: Sunrise Service on Easter Sunday, Memorial Day remembrance in May and honoring those who served in November on Veterans’ Day.  It would be later that year in 1920 that the first Unknown Soldier would be interred.

But back to the historic event …  it was a first … a first time that such an event would happen, where the echoes of great events still resonate within the marble structure.  On 17 MAR 2013… new echoes would join them…

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Posted 4 years, 11 months ago at 10:08 am.

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A President’s View On Defending the Freedoms

President John F Kennedy Addressing the Nation

“Now let me make it clear that I believe there can only be one defense policy for the United States and that is summed up in the word ‘first.’ I do not mean first, but. I do not mean first, when. I do not mean first, if. I mean first –period.”

John Fitzgerald Kennedy

35th President of the United States


Posted 5 years, 9 months ago at 6:29 am.


Risks and Costs

President John F Kennedy“There are risks and costs to a program of action, but they are far less than the long range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.” – John Fitzgerald Kennedy


Posted 6 years, 1 month ago at 6:36 am.

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A President is Laid to Rest

Eternal Flame at President Kennedy's Grave

Eternal Flame at President Kennedy's Grave

25 NOV 1963 –  The world was focused on Washington DC and Arlington National Cemetery, for the United States of America was paying final honors to it’s fallen President.

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Posted 6 years, 2 months ago at 12:13 pm.

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48 Years Ago…

Fort Bragg, NC –  An historic meeting occurred that changed the US military – specifically the US Army forever.  For it was on this day,  12 OCT 1961 a visit was arranged that forged a lasting effect that continues until this day –  Presidential validation of the Special Forces – “The Green Berets”

To understand the history though,  one must look back nearly 200 years before, one state south and consider “The Swamp Fox”…

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Posted 8 years, 4 months ago at 1:25 pm.


From the "Watchmen" speech…

“We in this country, in this generation, are-by destiny rather than choice-the watchmen on the walls of world freedom.”

John F. Kennedy

The speech was never delivered as the “Watchman” was assasinated on 22 NOV 1963 on his way to the “walls”.


Posted 8 years, 8 months ago at 6:56 pm.

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